Higher education in Missouri took a hit in mid-January when Missouri State University handed out thousands of free canvas book bags. The problem is the institution misspelled its own name on a portion of the bags, adding frustration to an embattled campus bookstore that saw its director resign in August over hundreds of thousands of dollars in missing funds. The Springfield News-Leader reports the typo was a costly one as details are just now emerging.
* The Missouri State University bookstore ordered 17,800 maroon canvas bags with a "Bears" logo on it. Encircling the logo is the name of the institution. On more than 8,500 bags, nearly half of them, the word "university" is spelled "univeristy" with the letters "i" and "s" inverted. The News-Leader has a photo of what the typo looks like.
* The bags cost a total of $70,844 to make at $3.98 per pag, according to the media outlet. There were 6,000 bags handed out with the typo. Another 2,500 were destroyed. The cost of the destroyed bags totals $9,950.
* The university cannot recoup the costs of the bags because the original artwork submitted by the university was approved on two separate occasions. The artwork submitted to the vendor initially had university approval and the logo was approved again when the vendor needed permission to print the bags.
* A decision was made to hand out the free book bags anyway, even with the mistake. The interim director of the place wasn't consulted before the move was made. A new director, Sonda Reinartz, started Jan. 14, according to the News-Leader.
* The canvas bags were given away free as part of a book promotion. Before students picked up textbooks for the spring semester, book orders were stuffed into the bags with the mistaken word. Earle Doman, vice president of student affairs, told the media outlet that plastic bags were preferable because the "univeristy" bags were "just not worth it."
* The reason for the interim director stems from the resignation of Mark Brixey in August, according to The Standard. Brixey has not been charged with a crime and hasn't been located since leaving his position after more than $581,000 was missing from the bookstore. An internal audit flagged the missing money. As much as $81,000 was found locked in Brixey's desk drawer.
* The logo's design was made by the bookstore's marketing manager. A proof copy of the vendor's work was approved in July, a month before Brixey's resignation.
* Giving away free bags for book pre-orders goes back to at least April 2010. Back then, students received a free canvas bag worth $15 by reserving textbooks in advance.
William Browning, a lifelong Missouri resident, writes about local and state issues for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Born in St. Louis, Browning earned his bachelor's degree in English from the University of Missouri. He currently resides in Branson.
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- Missouri State University